There is an elite group of men who have a passion for the race and take on Belize’s Ruta Maya River Challenge for the glory of the first place trophy but there are also others who are in it for the glory of self-accomplishment and mere enjoyment.
This is the case of two teams from San Pedro, Ambergris Caye, who were not the youngest or fittest of all the contestants, but you can call them some of the bravest and inspiring. Six racers, Team ‘Hope We Finish’ (Dee Regis, Greg Lamb and Brittney O’Daniel) and Team ‘Reef Runners’ (Edwardo ‘Wayo’ Vasquez, Lisa Rusinek-Cyrier and Ronnie Cyrier) took on the gruesome four-day challenge to paddle over 170 miles and prove to themselves that no challenge is too great if they put their minds to it.
"I’ve come up with a lot of stupid ideas, but this one takes the cake," commented Brittney O’Daniel to iTravel Belize on day three of the race. But guess what, she is ready to do it again next year, with better equipment and more prepared, of course.
Team 'Reef Runners' wins 3rd Place in the Masters Division of the Ruta Maya River Challenge
Both teams arriving at the finish line in downtown Belize City
"We rented canoes that were not ideal for the race," said Lisa Rusinek-Cyrier. "They were heavy and not streamlined. We took what we thought would be enough supplies to get us through the race and we had a great time."
Both teams paddled passed the finish line with huge smiles on their faces and a sense of pride in themselves and their teammates. It was definitely worth the pain.
At the finish, we saw their tired hands, beaten up gloves, a canoe with foam cushions seats strapped down by duct tape. A wooden seat was screwed unto one of the canoes the day before the race; Lisa only prayed it would not break mid-race.
It was an adventure that we saw each one of them enjoy despite enduring harsh weather conditions, rough river ways, body aches and sleepless nights. It was all worth it for both teams.
Up next is the San Pedro Lagoon Reef Eco Challenge they say…Let’s congratulate them and cheer them on once again.
Brittney and Dee at the starting line below the Hawksworth Bridge, San Ignacio Town, Cayo
It pretty much rained every day of the Ruta Maya River Challenge this year
Arriving at the first pit stop on day one at Banana Bank
Makeshift rental canoes turned into racing canoes for three persons with foam padding
Dee Regis shows off her sunburn patterns left by wearing her gloves
Wayo, Lisa and Ronnie happy to complete day 3 of the race
Greg, Brittney and Dee arrive at Burrell Boom on Day 3 of the race
With one more day to go the gang celebrates with their cheering crowd at Burrell Boom
Ruta Maya River Challenge Accomplished!